A recent study found that countdown timers on traffic lights that let motorists know when a light will turn from green to yellow leads to safer responses and fewer car accidents. The study was conducted by researchers at Oregon State University. The research aims for a better understanding of the gray area in red light reaction time—known as the “dilemma zone.” This is the period of time when a driver is not sure whether to stop or keep going through the light.
Traffic Signal Countdown Timers
Traffic signal countdown timers, also known as TSCTs, are clocks that show drivers exactly how long the light will remain either red, yellow, or green. It looks like a digital clock display. Many Americans are familiar with these devices because they are used on crosswalks. TSCTs are used in many countries across the world, but they have not been adopted in the United States. In fact, the Department of Transportation prohibits their use at red lights.
Most of the traffic fatalities that occur in the United States happen at intersections. Many fear that if used in red lights, the TSCTs would cause confusion. Many worry that drivers would have a hard time knowing how to react, especially when they are first introduced, and that they could cause accidents.
The study used a green signal countdown timer that counted down only the final ten seconds of a green light. Researchers looked at 55 drivers, ranging in age from 19 to 73. They gathered a data set of 1,100 intersection interactions. In the half of these interactions that involved a GSCT (green signal countdown timer), the presence of the timer increased the probability that a driver would stop by an average of just over 13 percent, and decreased deceleration rates by 1.50 feet per second.
Researchers were able to conclude from this data that GSCTs may contribute to increased safety. They found that drivers were not as inclined to accelerate to try to beat the light. The results, according to the researchers, were consistent and statistically convincing. The results of this study were published recently in “Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour”.
One company has developed a cloud-computer connected connection countdown timer for the auto industry. Instead of being set directly in the light, it can be viewed on the instrument panel of the vehicle. These onboard clocks are permitted in the United States, unlike the traffic-signal mounted ones. Several 2017 Audi models currently feature the panel.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Represent Car Accident VictimsIf you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident, contact our car accident lawyers in New Jersey at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP. Call 732-777-0100 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are centrally located in in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, New Jersey and we represent clients throughout the state.